How to buy a car in Dubai

As the summer motor deals roll in, experts explain how to make the most of them

Summer is one of the most popular times of the year for buying a new car in Dubai. Special offers, deals and incentives flood the market and many car owners see it as the perfect time to upgrade their existing model either by trading in, selling privately or picking up a brand-new car for the first time.

Over the past 12 months, new car sales in Dubai have dipped by more than 20 percent, according to stats released by Autodata, a company that supplies technical information to the automotive market. The best year for new car sales in the UAE in recent times was 2014, when more than 400,000 brand-new units were sold at the showroom; and as a result of this dip, 2017 is seeing dealers become more overt with their special offers over the next month – but more on that later.

Before we get all excited about that new car smell, those shiatsu massage seats or voice-activated control systems reminiscent of Knightrider, let’s first explore how to go about finding your dream drive.

It can be a bit of a minefield: do you buy new from a dealer? Do you go down the second-hand route, and if so, where?

There are online marketplaces, physical marketplaces, Facebook communities, private adverts, second-hand intermediary services and so much more. So what is the best option for you?

Before you take the plunge
Buying a car is not a cheap exercise. A car is a sizeable investment that can depreciate (i.e. lose value) very quickly, so do your research. A cursory Google search will yield a lot about the type of car you want to buy: what do peer reviews say? Does it hold its value well? What features does the car have? And, most importantly, how much does it cost?

Before committing to buying a new car from a dealer, you might want to find out when the next model is due to be released. This will have a bearing on the value of the car you’re currently looking at, because as soon as next year’s model arrives, the car you’re eyeing up will drop in value considerably. So holding out for the new model will either leave you with a car with lower depreciation, or you’ll have a chance of picking up the older one for a little bit less.

Also ask about the cost of ownership, this will include the length of the warranty, service contract, insurance costs or registration fees. While it might look like a good deal on the face of things, you don’t want to face nasty surprises down the line.

Buying the best
It’s difficult to state outright which car is the “best” for you to buy – it totally depends on your preferences, tastes and finances. However, value retention is a key factor for a lot of people – and it’s definitely worth considering which car maker or model suffers from depreciation the least.

With that in mind, Japanese models are probably the best way to go. Recent research from used car retailer suggested that nine of the top ten cars that best retained their value were either Honda, Mitsubishi, Nissan or Toyota – all Japanese. Data gathered from more than 2,500 car sellers confirmed that the Nissan Patrol SUV retains up to 75 percent of its value when selling second-hand. The Ford Edge is the only non-Japanese model to make it into the top ten.

Buying a used car
Getting into the second-hand market can be a double-edged sword. You’ll certainly find cheaper top-line prices on your dream car, but it can be a misleading price tag when considering various costs that may crop up further down the line.

Imad Hammad, founder and CEO of, explains some of the traditional workings of the used car market, and the wealth of options available to buyers.

“Traditionally you have the used car dealerships, either the franchise agencies for certified pre-owned or the more fragmented players in Al Awir or Souq Al Haraj,” he says. “You receive sales assistance throughout the whole process and also have a reference point should any future difficulties emerge. These higher cost structures, though, may result in a premium on the price you’ll experience.”

There are, though, a growing number of alternative classified portals online. However, buying a used car privately means no official condition checks. If you go private, you’re on your own, and you can be left in the dark if you don’t know how to spot potential problems with the car – from what’s under the bonnet, to the brake pads, to the transmission or the state of the tyres. You also don’t get any warranty, servicing or roadside assistance deals, so the costs can quickly skyrocket if you’re not clued up.

But, through authorised sales portals in both the digital and physical world, the number of used car sales are on the rise. Dubizzle’s GM of Motors, Jean-Pierre Mondalek, says new-versus-used car sales are almost equal, with a number of premium, high-end models now available second-hand and online.

“The UAE automotive market is very dynamic and the appetite to replace vehicles more frequently has led to a ratio of almost 1:1 for new vs. used cars sales,” he says. “Last Ramadan, we found that there was an increase in demand for sports cars on Dubizzle, with the most popular models being the Porsche GTS, Mercedes AMG and Dodge SRT respectively. This year, we are introducing Ramadan offers on verified second-hand cars, as well as providing deals on car insurance.

If you’re looking at a used motor, Nithul Lakshman from PAL Auto Garage recommends getting a full vehicle check-up to understand its exact condition, beyond having a quick look under the bonnet or kicking the tyres. It can cost as little as Dhs250 for a full check, which in the long run is well worth it.

“If you’re still in doubt – take the vehicle to a garage for a full check-up,” he says. “Three things will be analysed: mechanical aspects – which help to understand the status of the engine and if there are any leakages inside the vehicle – electrical aspects – which examine all the of the electrical and computer diagnostics to check things like air-con, lighting and the in-car computer system – and a body check-up – which gives you the accident history of the car.”

Classified ads online or direct selling aren’t the only options. There are also plenty of authorised used car dealerships, which present buyers with more complete, service-managed bundles, incentives, offers and post-sale support included. It might not be
as cheap as going direct to the seller, but it’s safer.

So there’s plenty to consider, but there are also lots of opportunities to find an absolute gem over the course of the next month. Get clued up, figure out exactly what you want, and get bargain-hunting.

Summer deals Six of the best

Get a 15 percent complimentary down payment direct from the manufacturer (i.e. from any dealer), plus one year free insurance, and free service and repair for up to five years.

Get up to Dhs50,000 off a Chevrolet Corvette through authorised dealers Al Ghandi Auto, Bin Hamoodah Auto and Liberty Automobiles. A pre-owned Camaro Convertible from Al Ghandi starts from Dhs2,159 per month, includes a discount of up to Dhs40,000, free registration, free window tinting, free seven-year unlimited mileage warranty and, unbelievably, no down payment required.

If you’ve been thinking about picking up a new Jaguar, you can grab 12 months’ deferred payment, up to eight months’ payment installments for free, plus five-year service, warranty and roadside assistance included. If you’re thinking about the XE, XF or XJ sedans, Jaguar is offering up a rather helpful five-year interest-free option, plus an additional year’s insurance and registration on the XJ and up to 15 percent off in-car accessories.

Pick up a brand-new E-Class for Dhs2,999 per month for two years, which includes a years’ insurance, a three-year service package, free SMART repair for two years and free window tinting.

The Nissan Patrol Titanium-V8 is free for the first year – payments begin from Ramadan 2018. All new models are also covered for three years free warranty or 100,000km, whichever comes first.

“Buy Now. Pay Ramadan 2018.” This deal covers all major Toyota models including sedans, SUVs and off-roaders. Plus, any purchase includes a four-year free maintenance and service package, while a more comprehensive service cover package starts from just Dhs2 per day.

10 Best cars for value retention

1. Nissan patrol

2. Honda accord

3. Ford Edge

4. Toyota Camry

5. Toyota Land Cruiser

6. Nissan Altima

7. Toyota Corolla

8. Toyota FJ Cruiser

9. Mitsubishi Pajero

10. Nissan Sunny

Car financing

What you need to know.

If you can’t throw down the thousands of dirhams it costs to buy a new car up front, in cash, there are alternative options to help you get your dream wheels.

Many dealers and manufacturers will offer compelling financing options (plus extra deals throughout Ramadan) if you can come up with the cash for a down payment. Over the course of the next month, there are some epic deals that involve interest-free periods or even down payment-free offers.

Equally, all of the major banks offer car financing loans to help you stump up the funds to pick up your new drive. It’s always worth asking for a discounted rate or offer on the financing side before signing a credit agreement either with the dealership or with the bank.

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